The Hertford & Welwyn Junction Railway was one of Hertfordshire’s earliest, intended to join the Welwyn-Luton-Dunstable route and form a cross-county link. But the Great Northern mainline railway would not allow branch lines to cross its tracks at Hatfield or Welwyn, and so the Hertford & Welwyn remained an isolated ten mile track with no passenger ‘through’ trains.
The line was intended to benefit Hertford, but passenger demand was weak since it was still quicker to London on the Great Eastern from Hertford East to Liverpool Street. When the Great Northern’s Hertford Loop was built in the 1920s it cut off the eastern end of the branch line, and sealed its fate by opening a new mainline station at Hertford North. Although passenger traffic carried on until 1951, the line was a backwater, and stations like Hertingfordbury used oil lamps right till the end.
At first goods traffic consisted mainly of coal for households and small businesses, but from about 1935 to 1966 London refuse trains made regular runs to the Holwell Hyde sandpits near Cole Green.
The track was bought by the County Council in 1972 and there is an attractive bridleway, footpath and cycle route through farmland between the River Lea outside Hertford (where the bridge has been dismantled) to the A414. Between the A414 and Welwyn the trackbed has mainly been swallowed by gravel pits, and is no longer recognisable as a railway.
Below you can listen to a selection of clips taken from interviews with people who worked on or lived near the line.